The Election Commission, Nepal has recently established a mechanism and appointed Electoral Focal Persons, with 7 Electoral Focal Persons from the provincial government, and 753 from the local government spread across the country in an effort to reach all voters at the grassroot level. These focal persons are the Secretaries of the Office of the Chief Minister and Council of Ministers at the provincial level, and the section heads of either the Education Section or Social Development Section of the local government. The Electoral Focal Persons have been assigned from within the provincial and local level governments, in close coordination with the Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration and the Election Commission.
The execution of the Electoral Focal Persons programme is as envisioned by the Constitution, especially given the federal structure of the country; Electoral Act; Commission’s Third-Five-Year Strategic Plan.
The role of Electoral Focal Persons will primarily be to enhance coordination and cooperation at the local and provincial level in the overall electoral operation and management; including in registration and updating of the voter list, disseminating voter and electoral education activities, among others, as guided by their approved job description.
All information related to electoral activities will be provided by the Election Commission. Given their proximity to the voters, the Electoral Focal Persons can also impart the Commission’s electoral activities throughout the electoral cycle – before elections, during elections and after elections. UNDP/ESP provides support to the Commission along with other technical support providers in capacity enhancement of these Electoral Focal Persons.
The Chief Election Commissioner Honourable Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya stated, “The Commission used to collaborate with the local government only during elections; but with this new mechanism in place, the Commission will always be linked to the local level through Electoral Focal Persons, throughout the electoral cycle.”
This endeavor on part of the Commission strives to strengthen its outreach, especially at the grassroots. The Commission wants to ensure that all voters have access to the information they need in order to cast an informed and valid vote.
Echoing this sentiment, UNDP’s Deputy Resident Representative Bernardo Cocco expressed, “UNDP is committed to reach people from the most marginalized communities, and Electoral Focal Persons will play a vital role in this regard.”
This first of its kind system was inaugurated amidst a virtual programme on 9 August 2021. The event included 1330 participants, with 750 joining via Zoom, and 580 via YouTube Live. The Chief Election Commissioner, Honourable Dinesh Kumar Thapaliya, and Election Commissioners, Honourable Ishwori Prasad Paudyal; Ram Prasad Bhandari; Dr. Janaki Kumari Tuladhar; and Sagun Shumsher J.B. Rana, the Secretary of the Election Commission, Suresh Adhikari and ECN Secretariat officials were present at the event. Moreover, 753 Electoral Focal Persons from across the country, local level government, National Association of Rural Municipality of Nepal (NARMIN), District and Provincial Election Offices, and development partners, including UNDP and IFES were also a part of the event. The Chairperson of NARMIN, Mr. Hom Narayan Shrestha also expressed the commitment on part of the local government to collaborate with the Election Commission in order to ensure all voters are informed of the electoral activities at the local level.
At the event, the Election Commission appreciated the technical assistance on outreach and inclusion that UNDP has been providing, through the Electoral Support Project, to the Commission since 2008.